Thursday, January 26, 2006

Reading A Resume

Resumes are such strange things: crammed with serious and cryptic words, boasts and accomplishments, and even a paragraph entitled "career objective", all designed to impress the reader. But after you've read resumes for a few years, you look past the fonts and the formats and you learn to read between the lines. You recognize the euphemisms and the hyperboles and - and this is the part I find troubling - you start "figuring out" people.

Couple of days ago, I was reviewing the resume of a technology consultant with about twelve years of consulting experience. I noticed a significant time gap between his last two jobs. Not only that, the man had changed careers, going from being a technology consultant to working as a parole officer or something. For almost all business managers, these are red flags: long time-gaps and career changes.

My clever brain "figured out" Joe Tech's life-story in a snap. Joe was a consultant, doing well, no doubt, then got laid-off, couldn't find work, settled for the first job that came along and ended up becoming a parole officer.

I had figured him out. I wouldn't hire him.

However, just before I closed the document, I read it once again. It seems I had missed a crucial sentence in the paragraph describing his current job. It clearly explained the reason for the long break in his professional career.

It said right there that during that period of unemployment, he was living with his parents and was helping them with their day-to-day living. It also said his mother was fighting cancer.

Never could I have imagined that the simple act of reading a resume would reveal my prejudgment - and shame - so suddenly and clearly.


kundalini said...

why just resumes krishna, arent we prone to prejudgment all the time and everywhere? but i see what you mean. so, did he qualify in the end?

km said...

"prone"? I'd say prejudgement is our nature. Blink of an eye, and all that.

Thankfully, I did not have to make a decision about hiring this person because of other reasons.

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